Friday, November 5, 2010
Look, There's Elvis!
The man - or was it a woman? - slumped against the bathroom wall in the hospital, unresponsive and deadly pale. A passing employee rent the air with her startled scream. "Please, come quick! Somebody help me!"
The team of crack EMT's rushed in, determined to save the man - or was it a woman? - if they could. "Let's get him on the floor, stat," the lead EMT barked.
"Or her," another mumbled under her breath.
"No respirations and no pulse." The lead sounded hoarse. "Initiate CPR."
As one, each member of the team leaped into action, one beginning chest compressions, one inserting an airway and preparing to bag, and one getting the board for transport. The poor hospital employee watched it all, wringing her hands and moaning softly.
It was a long trip, and the EMT's were tired when at last they rolled the patient, still unresponsive, into the ER where Dr. Ruth waited. She spared only the most cursory glance before declaring the patient dead. The EMT's relaxed, stretched their aching muscles. They had done all they could.
"Great job, guys," the instructor said. "Now sit down and write me up a report on what you just did. Oh, and please put the dummy back where you found him."
"Her," someone whispered.
Then it was my turn to be on a team. When we found the patient, he was in even worse shape than before. What, you ask, could be downhill from dead? As it turns out, plenty. This time, our poor person was found face-down, still unresponsive, with his head in the toilet and the seat resting on the back of his neck. It looked for all the world like the toilet was trying to eat him, and just hadn't gotten around to swallowing the rest of him. Rather an undignified way to go...but not if we could help it!
After we loaded our patient, the ambulance driver took us all around town, over the railroad tracks, bumpity bump bump, pumping and bagging all the way. Two of us kept up the CPR at all times, the other two steadying with one hand and hanging onto the ceiling rail, subway-style. The "hysterical" hospital employee rode along, too, giving direction as needed, and timing us to get a baseline against future efforts.
Alas, despite all we could do, upon our arrival Dr. Ruth quickly declared him dead. Again.
She never did explain to us how, with no pulse and no respiration, our patient was able to get sick to his stomach on the way to the hospital, thus needing to be turned on his side and suctioned, mid-CPR. One would almost think it had only been an excuse to get us to practice suctioning.
When the instructor read the three trip reports, our team was horrified to learn that another team had been far more creative, naming the patient and making up a funny address. (They did have trouble picking a gender, though, since the poor dummy had a man's head and a woman's torso, but hey, nobody's perfect.) Our report, though most excellent, had not made anyone laugh. Well, Team A, consider the gauntlet to be thrown.
Next, another student and I were dispatched to an office, a hospital office, oddly enough, for an unresponsive male. We walked in to find a tall, burly EMT lying flat on the floor, his desk chair knocked over beside him. Snoring sounds came from his throat, and his right hand still clutched a urinal.
"I don't even want to know."
Performing the treatment was a little distracting, when the 'unresponsive' patient kept giggling. He's just lucky I only pretended to insert the nasal airway. Next time, he might not be so fortunate.
Tune in next week for the adventures of...
Gastron O. Nomical